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Judo: Madeleine Malonga, on her way to Paris 2024

The end of the suspense, most likely.

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Judo: Madeleine Malonga, on her way to Paris 2024

The end of the suspense, most likely. On Tuesday, when the selection committee of the French Judo Federation meets to discuss the last place still to be allocated for the next Olympic Games, namely that of less than 78kg for women, it appears highly probable that the question will be definitively decided. Without waiting another month and the European Championships in Croatia for example which will take place at the end of April. And if a choice is made, it seems difficult to imagine that it would not be made in favor of Madeleine Malonga, titled in Antalya this Sunday.

Indeed, the 2019 world champion seems to have gained the upper hand over her competitor Audrey Tcheuméo, whom she had beaten at the beginning of February during the Grand Slam in Paris. A meeting which ended with Tcheuméo refusing to shake hands with his opponent, mainly due to the feeling of having been wronged by the refereeing. But this episode, beyond reflecting in a particularly visible way the lack of affinities between the two young women, above all brought to the forefront the risk, for the French staff, of maintaining this rivalry for too long. If it turned out to be more cordial, emulation could be an argument in favor of prolonging the suspense. Alas, this is not the case and in this little game which is not necessarily very healthy, Audrey Tcheuméo has lost the superb which was hers in 2023, a year marked by her silver medal at the World Championships as well as her titles during the Grand Slam in Paris and Antalya. Even where, ironically, she saw her Olympic dream disappear this year.

A week ago, settling for 5th place on the Tbilisi side, Audrey Tcheuméo did not make it through, but her performance left a feeling of unfinished business. As if, in the final stretch, she had finally cracked under the pressure. Quite the opposite of Madeleine Malonga who always says: “The mind is one of my greatest strengths.” Which was verified this Sunday in Antalya. Expeditious during her first three fights, all finished in less than two minutes either by an ippon (against the Lithuanian Migle Dudenaite and the Portuguese Patricia Sampaio), or by the penalty game (against Antonina Shmeleva), the Frenchwoman won a prestigious success in the semi-finals against the world number 3, the German Anna-Maria Wagner, beaten by a waza-ari. Before her emotion, strong, after her victorious final against another German, Alina Boehm, dismissed by a superb ippon after barely more than two minutes. Great art, well worth a ticket to Paris 2024.

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